Tips to Deal with the Argumentative Teen

Having to deal with an argumentative teenage child can be exasperating, exhausting and enervating, but recent research shows that this may be a good thing: Argumentative teens may resist peer pressure better, and may be better able to resist pressure to try out drugs alcohol and so on, researchers have found.

The general trait of being able to stand up for themselves may manifest in a child being able to put their point across to a parent, but also the ability to be calm, confident and persuasive with friends and peers. This may be all very well, but having an argumentative teen at home can be very difficult for a parent to deal with.

Here are some tips to deal with the argumentative teen:

Understand why your child argues

At an age when a person is neither still a child nor yet an adult, he or she may have the need to assert themselves, but may feel a sense of powerlessness and crisis of identity, that leads to conflict.

Communication skills are not well developed yet, but the need for independence and a paradoxically childish curiosity are still present. The fact that your average teen will frequently storm off in a huff with the words You just don’t understand is a testament to this fact.

What a parent thinks of as ‘reminding’ may be viewed by the teen as ‘nagging’ and this puts their back up. Even something that may have got around to doing eventually will be indefinitely postponed.

Delegate, don’t direct

This is a person who is learning more about maturity each day and will probably respond well to responsibility. Give the child the amount of responsibility that you know they can handle reasonably well and then step back to see how well a task is performed. It may not be done perfectly the first time but that is better than telling the child what to do every step of the way – this is not only irritating, it undermines the purpose of the exercise.

Include them in the decision making process

This helps a child feel like their opinion is valued and reduces the insecurity and feeling of powerlessness that the child may feel.

Don’t shout and don’t allow shouting

Set the tone for any discussion by being polite, controlled and civil. Don’t let anger and impatience get the better of you, and don’t let your child get loud or rude either. Don’t be condescending but make sure that you are the adult in charge.


Don’t just hear, but really listen to what your teen has to say and make sense of not just the words but the emotions behind them. Empathy may be difficult but it is important here.


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